On 25 October 2015, Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość), a political force championing nationalist and Christian values, won the parliamentary elections in Poland by a large majority. It ran a platform built on conservative Roman Catholicism
The Motorway as a Space of Neoliberalism
The article surveys a giant infrastructural construction project in Poland: the A2 motorway, connecting Poznan´ and Warsaw with the Polish-German border. It was the first private motorway in Poland, and the biggest European infrastructural project, and was realized in a public-private partnership system. The last section of A2 was opened on 1 December 2011, which can be seen as a key moment in Polish socioeconomic transformation. I examine it on two levels: (1) a discourse between government and private investors in which the motorway was the medium of economic and social development and infrastructural “the end” modernization of Poland; (2) practices and opinions of local communities, living along the new motorway. On the first level, the construction of A2 was seen as an impetus for the economic and social development of the regions where the motorway was built. But on the second level, I observe almost universal disappointment and a deep crisis experienced by local economies.
Embodied Claims between the Nation and Europe
This article examines the ways in which struggles for (bodily) autonomy are related to claims of European and national belonging in Poland. In this country bodies became especially relevant to political discussions since the conservative party PiS
The agricultural situation in Poland has been changing significantly during the last decades. In 1989, the predictability of the communist centrally planned economy was replaced by the unexpectedness and "invisible hand" of the free market economy. The socialist welfare state has been replaced by new modes of support, introduced by European Union (EU). On the basis of fieldwork conducted between 2005 and 2008 in farming communities in eastern Poland, I focus on decision making among small-scale farmers. This article addresses decision-making processes and their sociocultural context, including the reasons for and circumstances behind decisions, and also elements of decision-making processes that tend to hinder the introduction of EU agricultural policy. In the course of adapting to new and changing realities, farmers creatively use customary ways of thinking and acting in the various decisions they have to make while running the farm. Changes of the very mechanisms of decision-making processes seem to be rather slow, however.
A Few Notes about Its Economic and Cultural Divides
In the recent years, one of the most popular subjects of research in political science has been the rise of populism. In Poland, an anti-establishment government has won a second electoral cycle in a row. However, unlike in Hungary, the opposition received a comparable share of the vote. In this article, I try to show how a country with a seemingly homogeneous population could have become so divided. I argue that the current polarization is based on the lack of social recognition of the less well-off citizens and areas, and on the lack of social cohesion: deeply rooted cultural and moral divisions in society overlapping with differences in economic situation. Those underlying causes explain why civil society in Poland is still able to mobilize, but they also let us predict that the divisions will not disappear soon. Although the political preferences of the youth suggest a strong demand for more pluralism, the new gender cleavage may deepen with time, based on a similar logic: diverging life courses and a lack of social cohesion and recognition exploited by polarizing parties. The explanations offered here contribute to the understanding of not only the success of antiestablishment parties in Poland but also of the differences between the Western and Central and Eastern European political mainstream.
This article examines memories of socialism among different generations in Nowa Huta, Poland. Initially built as an industrial “model socialist town“, since 1989 Nowa Huta experienced economic decline and marginalization. Its socialist legacy is now being reinterpreted in ways that reflect changed political, economic, and social conditions. This article describes contemporary public representations of the town's history and considers how they resonate with the experiences and understandings of different generations of residents, from the town's builders to the youngest generation, who have no firsthand memories of the socialist period. It demonstrates how generational categories are both reflected and constructed through different accounts of the past, while also revealing overlaps between them. Throughout, specific attention is paid to the relationship between narratives of the past, present, and future, and present-day political and economic realities.
This article describes why the Polish government has pushed for an invocation to Christian traditions in the European Union Constitution. It is argued that this is a rather 'unfortunate' outcome of the political alliance between the Catholic Church and the Polish left, especially between President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). This alliance allowed the SLD to legitimize their rule in the post-socialist Poland, and it was a result of a political competition between them and the post-Solidarność elites. As a result, John Paul II became the central integrative metaphor for the Polish society at large, which brought back in the marginalized as well as allowed the transition establishment to win the EU accession referendum in 2003. The article (which was written when Leszek Miller was still Prime Minister) demonstrates how this alliance crystallized and presents various elements of the cult of the Pope in Poland that followed. Finally, it argues that the worship of the Pope is not an example of nationalism, but of populism, understood not as a peripheral but as a central political force, and advocates for more research on the 'politics of emotions' at work in the centers and not in peripheries.
Disability Memoirs in Socialist Poland
Polish disability memoirs published in the 1970s and 1980s serve as a testament to the “familialization” ( urodzinnienie ) of disability under state socialism in Poland. The narratives in such memoirs reveal that mothers should be the main
How Polish Political Elites Frame Their Discourse on “German Hegemony”
Ireneusz Pawel Karolewski and Maciej Olejnik
“German hegemony” (Is Germany an actual hegemon, and does it behave like one?) and attempts to reconstruct the images of Germany in the public space of a single country—Poland. In this way, we can better map out the variety of approaches to “German
The EU as an Instrument for Personal and National Advancement
The paper explores ways in which individuals make use of the opportunities and resources provided by the European Union (EU), and how such instrumentalities can make the concept of Europe more salient for citizens. This is important to European Union studies generally because careful observation and analysis of everyday engagements can help to reveal the basis upon which the EU gains legitimacy, or, alternatively, the grounds for resistance to further integration. Through an examination of Poles' experiences of mobility, and their reflections about crossing national borders to work and travel, the paper shows that instrumentality is not just motivated by economic interests, but also by the desire to advance culturally, socially and symbolically within a global imaginary of hierarchically ranked nations. As such, support for European integration tends to weaken in situations where ongoing inequalities and exclusions lead to perceptions of social demotion. Further, instrumentalities can deepen meaningful engagement with the EU in ways that also reassert national loyalties.